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Shop Local! Give The Mouse A Furlough And Shop Closer To Home

Original post made by Local Shop Owner on Mar 21, 2009

We shoppers irk local merchants when, despite layoffs, bankruptcies and shortage of government revenue accompanying the sharpest economic slowdown in recent memory, many of us continue to buy things on the Internet.

Many purchases are from sources so distant that our dollars can't find their way back to this community. But if we buy locally, the money is recycled immediately in paychecks, taxes, advertising, banking, insurance, real estate and countless other ways that strengthen the local economy.

A campaign called "Backyard Economics: Local Spending Works" makes a timely plea to buy as much as you can as close to your hometown as you can. It's generally good advice as evidenced by the variety of groups pushing the effort.

For every $100,000 California residents spend out of state, California loses one job. With spending on remote Internet sales now something like $12 billion a year, California is losing lots of jobs and lots of sales tax revenue.

No one is demanding that you buy only local all the time or sacrifice your freedom as a consumer to benefit from national and global markets. The request from business leaders is simply that you be sensitive to the reality that buying from someone who supports the local economy also helps support fire and police protection, schools and jobs for your neighbors.

Several other factors also must be kept in mind. One is that California's economy also depends on selling many things out of state, and another is that communities around the world are starting their own buy-local campaigns.

Lincolnshire County in Great Britain has a buy-local campaign called "Lincolnshire Bites Back." A filmmaker at the University of Alabama has launched a project called "Eating Alabama." He and his wife are living only on things grown or raised there. He won't eat a Florida orange because it didn't come from an Alabama tree.

"If everyone in this state made a concerted effort to buy locally raised vegetables and meats," he says, "we could put a huge amount of money back into our economy."

A buy-local campaign in Michigan echoes the same theme.

Before this all goes too far, everyone needs to also think about what would happen if we circle the economic wagons too tightly. We wouldn't all be better off. A vacation on Lake Michigan wouldn't be the same as one on the Gulf of Mexico. And to keep Michigan's dairies working at their present pace in economic isolation, every man, woman and child in the state would have to drink a quart of Michigan milk a day.

Helping the local economy doesn't require folks in Alabama to swear off oranges or folks in Florida to give up Wisconsin cheese.

What everyone should do is think about the power of their choices.

A music retailer who started a buy-local campaign in Minnesota makes an important point: "People vote with their dollars every day to decide what stays and what goes."

So consider which local stores, restaurants and services you want to see survive the recession, and make an extra effort to give them some extra business.

You might not realize how some of the money will come right back to you, but you'll feel better knowing that it will.

Comments (17)

Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 21, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Too bad some of that money doesn't get recycled to the schools.

Posted by Carl, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Joe - When the sales tax goes up 1% on April 1, know that 40% (proportion of state budget allocated to education) is going to schools. Note that the California Teachers Association is gathering signatures for a state ballot proposition to raise the sales tax another 1% of which 100% is to go to the schools. Nothing like having a 10.75% sales tax.

Unfortunately the effect of raising sales taxes is to make people shift their purchases onto the internet. Exactly the opposite of what Local Shop Owner wants to happen.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm

What money I have I spend wisely. Not only do I get many items online tax free but delivery is included. Ever consider a co-op market and giving shopper's a dividend at the end of the year? I love my Amazon Kindle and I never bother visiting bookstores anymore. I read most newspapers online. Save a penny here 'n there, that's me.

Anymore suggestions?

Posted by Wow, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Wow Carl, that is incredible how you were able to take this story and find teachers at fault. You seem to be really driven to spread this negativity towards education every chance you get. Scare tactics anyone?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:43 pm

The CTA _is_ gathering signatures. But it isn't for a 1% increase. The increase is supposed to be 1 cent. And the initiative isn't for going directly "to the schools". It is for funding more class size reduction so that there are more jobs for more teachers.

Posted by Carl, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Here is the summary of the CTA sponsored initiative. The link below is for the full text which shows 8 specific areas of funding, one of which is increased CSR.

Education Funding. Sales Tax. Initiative Statute and Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 02/27/09 Circulation Deadline: 07/27/09 Signatures Required: 694,354
Proponents: Roberta B. Johansen and Karen Getman

Imposes 1% sales and use tax to supplement current education funding. Requires that 89% of new revenue be used for kindergarten through grade 12 and 11% be used for community colleges. Prohibits transfer or borrowing of funds by Legislature. Authorizes funds for uses including staff development, teacher salaries, student services and programs like art, music, and vocational education. Prohibits use for administrative costs. Excludes revenues from budget and spending limitation calculations. Requires annual independent audits with State Controller review of findings. Authorizes civil or criminal penalties for misuse of funds. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased revenues of $2.5 billion in 2009-10 and $5.1 billion annually thereafter from a one-cent per dollar increase in the sales and use tax. Revenues would be dedicated to specific K-12 education and community college programs. Decreased revenues to state and local governments from a reduction in sales-related tax revenues due to decreased overall consumption. The amount of the decreased revenues could be hundreds of millions of dollars annually. (08-0021.)

Web Link

Wow - It is Joe who wondered how the money would get '...recycled to the schools'. I showed how some of it would. Nothing negative or scary about that. Those are your words, not mine.

Posted by asking, a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Stacy -Could you explain "But it isn't for a 1% increase. The increase is supposed to be 1 cent." I assumed that the 1% in on a dollar (a cent)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 21, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Is this the "new" math asking? We all know that just one cent is far different than 1% of a dollar. And it's Stacey, not Stacy.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 22, 2009 at 8:25 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The above post from 8 hours ago is not mine. It appears that someone would rather have a laugh at everyone's expense than contribute anything meaningful to the discussion.

Asking, Sales tax is a percentage of the price of a purchase.

Carl, I had read earlier it was only $0.01 (Web Link). It looks like the CTA has modified it. Thanks for the new info. I love this line: "Decreased revenues to state and local governments from a reduction in sales-related tax revenues due to decreased overall consumption."

Posted by just asking, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Sorry about the e Stacy -didn't mean to shortchange you. So, you didn't answer -what is 1% of a dollar?
Now, if you want to skip the math and just say that the 1% is 1% of the current sales tax, then thats fine, and you can skip the previous question. :)

Posted by askin, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm

so sorry again Stacey. know a Stacy(no e) and use to that spelling.

Posted by Book Lover, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

[Post removed due to being off topic]

Posted by Kristen, a resident of Happy Valley
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:42 am

The problem is that local Pleasanton shops are grossly overpriced. I'm willing to spend a little extra to support the local economy, but the goods in Pleasanton shops are way more expensive than I'm willing to pay for the quality.

Posted by Thought so too, but..., a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 11:12 am

I thought that too, Kristen, but have been surprised, especially lately. Several are out of my price range, but there are a few places to find good stuff. I seem to see a lot of sales going on too, which helps.

Posted by Book Lover, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 23, 2009 at 11:16 am

[Post removed due to being off topic]

Posted by Emily West, Pleasanton Weekly reporter
on Mar 23, 2009 at 11:27 am

Emily West is a registered user.

We've edited some comments as they are off topic. If posters wish to comment on another issue, please post a new thread or comment on others with the same related topic.

Posted by downtown shopper, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:16 pm

I agree with both posters above about the pricing in some downtown stores. Many are reasonably priced and have unique things. However, I have yet to see a clothing store (hello -- $100 for a T-shirt???) or an art gallery (don't even get me started) that has a single thing worth my money. Seems the more their stuff costs the ruder they are to the potential customers. Maybe it is just karma when they go out of business.

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